A couple summers ago, my daughter and I went on a three-week African adventure. As you can imagine, we stayed in many different hotels, resorts and safari lodges while we were there. We also enjoyed the company of several different tour guides, tour companies, restaurants, and venues.
Every one of those businesses survives and thrives on word of mouth recommendations, and in today’s world – rating and reviews from crucial sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and others.
What I found fascinating is the range of ways they did or didn’t ask for our feedback and/or reviews.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – I don’t care what you sell or who you serve, there is power in capturing customer feedback. I’ve never known a business, no matter how amazing it is, that can’t benefit from candid input from a recent customer. Not only can you up your game by heeding their observations and unmet needs but you can earn their loyalty by responding and sharing how you are going to take their feedback into account.
Beyond that, research shows us time and time again that ratings and reviews play a significant role in influencing buying decisions. I think one of the most foolish misperceptions surrounding ratings and reviews is the idea that you shouldn’t ask for them, because you’ll get bad ones. Guess what – you’re going to get the bad ones, whether you ask or not.
People are much more inclined to share their bad experiences and frustration on review sites and social media channels. The only way to counter-balance that is to ask your best, happiest customers to leave a review too. It takes 10-12 good reviews to nullify the impact of a bad review, but the good news is – the more good reviews you earn by asking for them – the further down those bad reviews go.
How do you get ratings and reviews? There’s no one right answer but trying a mix of these tactics should net you some good results.
Be extraordinary: The easiest way to get positive reviews is to be worthy of them. This is not as easy as it sounds. I’m not talking about being satisfactory. I am talking about knocking their socks off with your service. This takes time, training, and a shared vision of what customer service looks like in your organization.
Have signage at the point of delivery: If you own a retail establishment, be sure you advertise that you’d welcome reviews and ratings in your store. If you run an online business, include a postcard with links to the review sites that mean the most to your business.
Share your reviews on your social channels: Let everyone know that you are actively monitoring and responding to reviews by sharing a few. Better yet – share one that is not a 5-star and talk about how you are going to evolve your business based on that feedback.
Follow up after the sale: Call, email, or send snail mail to your customer a few days after delivery. Genuinely ask about their experience and if the product/service is meeting their needs. Once you’ve engaged them in the conversation, invite them to leave a review.
Don’t forget your older sales: It’s definitely worth putting together a campaign aimed at people who have purchased from you, but maybe not in the last couple of months. You might score a twofer – a great review and trigger a repeat purchase!
Soliciting ratings and reviews should be part of every organization’s marketing plan. This is not a one tactic fits all situation, so experiment with several of these until you find the right combination. Don’t leave such an important aspect of how potential customers evaluate your business to chance.